Binghams Blog #4

7th July


The roots of artificial grass - Where it all started!


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Artificial grass and synthetic sports surfaces appear in our lives almost every day. With an ever-increasing amount being seen in sports clubs and private residences, we thought it would be interesting to put together a little blog on the history of where the surface originates from.



What is Artificial grass?


Artificial grass or turf is a surface manufactured from synthetic fibers designed to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and a multitude of commercial applications too.



How is it made?


As a brief insight into the process, there are 3 main components and 3 main stages of production. The 3 key components are;


Synthetic yarn




The process involves spools of artificial yarn being looped into the backing fabric being secured in place by a thin coating of glue, applied to the underside of the backing fabric. After the glue has dried, the surface is perforated to allow easy drainage. Once all these processes have been carried out, the synthetic turf can then be rolled, ready to go out to customers.



Foundations for artificial grass!


There’s no doubt that since its initial appearance, over fifty years ago, artificial grass has proved itself to be a huge success. Artificial grass first gained the public’s attention in 1966, when it was used in the newly constructed Astrodome in Texas, for being used as a solution to the lack of natural light for real grass. The specific product used was called AstroTurf; this term since then became a colloquialism for any synthetic grass or turf throughout the late 20th century.


While this is when it first came to the public’s knowledge, it was however created before this, under the name Chemgrass.


Unlikely as it may seem, it was Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and his son, Edsel, who set the ball rolling. In 1936, Henry & Edsel Ford jointly established the Ford Foundation, with the aim of advancing public welfare in terms of scientific, educational and charitable initiatives.


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Setting the seeds!


While both Edsel & Henry Ford died in the 1940's, the work of the foundation they established continues to this day. In the early 1960's it was observed by the Ford Foundation that people who lived in rural locations were fitter and stronger than those who dwell in built up urban areas, through their studies on ways to improve the physical fitness of young people.


It was believed that one reason behind these findings was the nature of the surfaces the children had been playing on. In urban areas these tended to be hard surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete. Even where there was earth, it was inclined to be compacted and free from grass, a world away from the grassy fields and meadows where rural children could run and play.


At the same time as this work was ongoing, the Chemstrand Company were developing new synthetic fibers for use as tough carpeting. The desire to replicate the benefits of a rural space in an urban area drove the Ford Foundation to contact The Chemstrand Company and they were encouraged to try to make the perfect urban sports surface for schools by the Ford Foundation. From 1962 to 1966, Chemstrand worked on creating new surfaces.


In 1964, the Creative Products Group installed the first large scale area of Chemgrass at the Moses Brown School in Providence Rhode Island, shortly followed by the use in the Astrodome, where the surface was re-branded Astroturf.


The use of artificial turf and similar surfaces became widespread in the early 1970's, installed in both indoor and outdoor stadiums.



Residential Usage


At first artificial turf was used exclusively in sports fields and arenas. It was inevitable, however, due to the benefits which were on offer, that it would make its way into the domestic market.


The attraction of a lawn that takes no watering or trimming, is pet-friendly and hard wearing, the chance to have a full, green lawn even in areas situated in full shade and can be kept in good shape with a minimum of effort, appeals to many people.


It took a couple of decades to begin to be widely adopted, and undoubtedly advances in technology helped, as the grass began to look less artificial and more like natural turf, but now we accept artificial grass as quite normal – both outdoors and indoors.


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Artificial Grass in Landscaping


Since the early 1990's, the use of synthetic grass has moved rapidly beyond sports/athletic fields to residential and commercial landscaping, particularly in more arid regions.


This trend has been driven by the dramatic improvement in the quality and variety of available synthetic and artificial grasses, the reduced cost of maintenance and care compared to natural grass, and the realisation that artificial lawns can be a significant water conservation measure in areas where water usage is a concern.  



Fancy your own?


Check out our services and projects pages, or Contact us for more information on how we can help to fit your perfect Synthetic surface, with a FREE site visit and quotation, with NO COMMITMENT!